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Series: A Day in the Life of an NCG – Oregon

March 2, 2015 | Life at Lam

In this article, we take a look at what our new college graduate (NCG) employees are busy working on at the Lam Research offices in Tualatin, Oregon.

At Lam Research, we are committed to helping bright, enthusiastic NCGs transition to successful and rewarding careers in the workplace. Now in their first jobs after graduating, NCGs working at Lam are truly enjoying their new positions. We caught up with a few of these busy grads to chat with them about their experiences and what they’re learning—and we’re glad we did. In addition to providing insightful workplace perspectives, their stories highlight the importance of decisions they made while in school and during their first jobs following graduation.

Below, three NCGs working at Lam’s Tualatin, Oregon, campus share their experiences: a mechanical engineer (Rachel, master’s degree in mechanical engineering, MIT), a process engineer (Kathryn, Ph.D. in electrical engineering, UC Santa Barbara), and a software engineer (Ethan, bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, University of Washington, Seattle).

What is a typical day at work like?

I spend most of my time at my desk working on design and development for Lam’s dielectric film deposition systems. The rest of my time is spent in the lab and in meetings. Several times a year, I travel for training, to attend conferences or visit supplier or customer sites, and sometimes to help with college recruiting. – Rachel

Some days, I am in our applications lab, running experiments to optimize process conditions. On other days, I spend time at my desk analyzing data. I generally work independently, but meet with my team several times a day to discuss progress and next steps. – Kathryn

Unless I am in meetings or in the lab, I spend most of my day doing design work for my projects. This includes defining the software behavior that we need, studying the current functionality and implementation, and then finding, coding, and documenting the solution. – Ethan

How do you like your job and the work you are doing?

I like doing tool analysis and helping to explain process results. Attending Lam’s Engineering Technology Conference has been a highlight for me. I really enjoyed meeting coworkers from our offices around the world and learning about all of the different projects being worked on by Lam teams. – Rachel

Compared to academic research, working at Lam is very fast-paced and more team-oriented. I like the variety of activities I have and staying busy. With time, I’m getting more responsibilities and more opportunities to communicate my research results, which is important to me. There are always new problems to solve, so the work is never boring. While it is challenging at times trying to stay on top of everything, it can also be fun. – Kathryn

I enjoy my job because I am interested in the work we are doing—developing software applications for an electroplating deposition product. I am excited that my current project gives me an opportunity to create something new and collaborate extensively with process, mechanical, and electrical engineers. – Ethan


Is your job and the workplace what you expected?

I have learned that doing well in school involves a very different set of skills. Unlike school, in the workplace, you can’t get away with just designing and executing a great experiment; you also need to be able to tell a compelling data-driven story about it. Also, being organized and communicating well are vital for making quick, informed decisions. – Kathryn


What helped you transition to the workplace?

There were a million things to learn when I first started working, so asking tons of questions helped. – Rachel

I made friends with other NCGs, which made adapting quickly to the Lam culture a lot easier. Being curious, open-minded, and enthusiastic about learning new things also helped. – Kathryn

Because I was able to do an internship with one of Lam’s software groups, the transition was fairly easy. I knew the people and was familiar with the work I would be expected to do. – Ethan


Why did you choose Lam Research?

I had other offers, but Lam was my clear choice because of its growth, culture, and location. If you love engineering, but don’t want to do consumer product design (e.g., make it fit in this ergonomic box) or one-off designs (e.g., NASA), then Lam is a great spot. – Rachel

At the time, I was considering staying in academia. However, I was impressed with how fast projects were completed at Lam and was eager to learn about a new deposition technology that was in development. – Kathryn


What do you like about working at Lam?

I like having the opportunity to figure out new solutions and the freedom to determine the approach to take. Lam is growing fast and values NCGs, both of which are great for personal growth. – Rachel

Lam has supported my desire to stay academically relevant: our team’s research results were published, and I have already co-authored a patent. Last summer, I had the opportunity to present some of my results at a conference in Japan. I also love living in Portland! I feel so lucky to have a good job in such a cool part of the country. – Kathryn

The challenging work, supportive coworkers, and travel are some of the things I like best. I have the rare opportunity to get paid to see the world, and I want to take advantage of that. Last summer, I spent four weeks at our office in Bangalore, India, which was a great experience. – Ethan


What advice might you offer other recent graduates on transitioning to the workplace?

Take time to read about subjects relevant to your position in your first few weeks. It will help you follow the discussion in meetings and become a contributing member of your group. Ask to be included in meetings outside your core area so that you gain a broader view of the company, and network with people within and outside of your field. – Rachel

The first few weeks can be overwhelming, so be prepared to hit the ground running. Be open-minded and ask a lot of questions. Learn names and make friends with as many people as possible. – Kathryn

Take advantage of internship opportunities. They help you learn what it’s like to work in a corporate environment before you’re expected to perform at the level of a full-time employee, and they are a great way to network. – Ethan


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To learn more about NCG opportunities at Lam, please visit the College Programs section of our website.



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